Rough Start For New FHS Principal; Students Bristle At Aggressive Enforcement Of Old And New Policies

2016 Firt Day of School - 3

Franklin High School principal Cheryl Clark has come under fire from students for her aggressive enforcement of existing policies, and the implementation of new ones.

Faced with student opposition to aggressive enforcement of existing policies and some new procedures – opposition manifested in an online petition with more than 1,000 signatures – the new Franklin High School principal is planing to convene a committee of students and parents to discuss their concerns.

In a letter that is planned to be sent to parents on Sept. 7, FHS principal Cheryl Clark writes that she will establish the committee to discuss concerns about policy enforcement and other issues that could affect the school’s culture and climate.

At issue is the FHS administration’s newly invigorated enforcement of longstanding policies banning the use of electronic devices during the school day, and the school’s dress code.

In short, students are not allowed to use their phones during the entire course of the day. Also, some articles of clothing, such as ripped jeans, leggings and halter tops, are not allowed in school. Students are also not allowed to bring in beverages from the outside.

Also causing tension in the school are new entrance and exit procedures created for the two largest lunch periods. Students say the new procedures crowd too many people in too small spaces, and could be a safety threat.

FHS students are not shy about venting their spleens over the new developments.

Rebecca Holowinskyj, a senior, said she created the online petition so that students, parents and other could express how they feel about the new policies and enforcement.

“I started this petition yesterday, on September 4th, and we have already received over 1,000 signatures from an array of people,” Holowinskyj wrote in an email. “If that number doesn’t speak volumes to you already, the comments section on the website will! Concerned parents and students alike have written paragraphs on what they think should change, and the questions they have for our new principal, Mrs.Clark.”

Holowinskyj said that in prior years, students were able to use their cell phones during their free time, such as study periods or lunch.

She also said the way students dress never had an impact on their education, and the new traffic “routes” in the school “have made it worse for us.”

“Overall, we believe she is trying to fix things that do not need fixing,” she wrote of Clark.

Sara Goyal, also a senior, said that she recognizes that “there are many changes that need to be made, however, most of the new rules are seemingly unfair and a bit over the top for many of the students at Franklin High School. Many of the new rules do not relate to the learning environment at the high school as many of the bans cause more controversy for the student body.”

Another senior, Heather Pleus, said she sent an email to schools Superintendent John Ravally, the Board of Education members, Clark and the school’s vice principals, in which she objected to being what she called “berated” by Clark for using her cell phone upon arriving at school on the first day.

“Although I agree that phones should not be used during classroom time as it is a distraction, me and many others feel it is outrageous to ask us not to be on them in the lunch room during OUR FREE TIME and before the school day has even commenced nonetheless,” she wrote. “Many student resources are utilized via electronics that we are now deprived of.”

“Instead of trying this new dictatorship try to be fair with us and meet us in the middle,” she wrote. “If small changes are made as in cellphones in passing time and lunch I’m sure it would accommodate everyone’s needs. And with dress code, ripped jeans shouldn’t be an issue as long as the rips aren’t too excessive and revealing. Leggings also shouldn’t be an issue as long as it’s not paired with a crop top.”

District spokeswoman Mary Clark wrote in an email that the new routes were established “to allow for safer and more efficient travel in the hallways.”

“As it is early in the school year,” she wrote, “these routes are being monitored for effectiveness and will be adjusted as necessary.”

There was no word on when Clark would create the parent/student committee.


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